Skip navigation

The Doping Problem

Posted by Bruce E Hildenbrand Jan 23, 2008

Good news on the doping front (when have we heard that, lately?). It appears

that the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), organizers of the Amgen Tour of

California(AToC) have teamed with USA Cycling and the United States Anti-Doping

Agency(USADA) to bring tight doping controls to the 2008 AToC. The controls

appear to be a manifestation of the "biological passport" adopted by the World

Anti-Doping Agency(WADA) at its recent summit in Madrid.


Briefly, the biological passport is a history of an athlete's drug testing and

biological parameters (haematocrit, testosterone levels, etc.) which will be

used to set a baseline physiology and also record of when he/she has been

tested to determine if an athlete is within those parameters or taking performance

enhancing drugs(ped's). Interestingly enough, during an interview I conducted

with then-USADA chief, Frank Shorter, way back in 2001, this exact subject came

up and Frank, the 1972 Olympic Gold Medalist in the marathon, was a huge

proponent of a testing passport.


One of the things I vowed to do with this blog was to keep the frequency of my

postings on doping to a minimum. To be sure, we need to have a dialog about

this subject because it seems, right now, to be plaguing our sport.  But there

are so many other interesting things to talk about. But, this recent development

is pretty darn big.


AToC race director, Jim Birrell, told me that in 2006 the total cost of dope

testing at the race was $2300. This year, according to the agreement, over

$100,000 will be spent in an attempt to insure a clean race. That's some

major coin and it represents, IMHO, a very serious and aggressive attempt to

re-instill the confidence in the fans of the sport that the riders are, indeed,

exceptionally gifted athlete's with a burning desire to be first across the



Will money, which means increased frequency of testing and more tests, solve

the problem? After last year's Tour de France, I sent a proposal to the race

organizers to help restore credibility to their event. I proposed that they

include a new procedure during the time trials that as each rider crosses the

finish line, they are escorted to doping control to give blood and urine.

Unlike the road stages, where bunch finishes are common, in the time trials,

each rider crosses the line at about 1-2 minute intervals. With four or five

teams of sample takers each rider could be serviced in a prompt manner and

then sent on to their team bus.


However, proposals such as mine take major benjamins. But, if the sport is

going to survive, maybe that is the only solution. Some of the major

professional teams such as Slipstream/Chipotle, High Road Sports and CSC have

invested beacoup bucks to test their riders, out-of-competition.  Maybe it is

time for the other pro teams and also the UCI to follow suit and increase their

out-of-competition testing.


Whadda you all think?



1,258 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: tour-de-france, bruce-hildenbrand, bruce_hildenbrand, tour-of-california, slipstream-chipotle, team-csc, team-high-road-sports, aeg